Dec 13, 2011

USGS Scientist Honored for Work on Aquifer Contamination

Former chief scientist for hydrology named 2011 American Geophysical Union fellow

Mary Jo Baedecker, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist emerita and former USGS chief scientist for hydrology, has been named a 2011 American Geophysical Union (AGU) fellow for her pioneering research on aquifer contamination.

"Dr. Baedecker is joining an elite group of professionals recognized for premier achievements in research and highest regard by their peers," said Marcia McNutt, USGS director. "The entire USGS is celebrating this honor, because it also reminds us that the foundation of each of our studies to help support timely decisions is the best quality science."

Baedecker is one of 60 scientists elected as AGU fellows in 2011. AGU fellows are elected for exceptional scientific contributions, including a major breakthrough, discovery or paradigm shift. The honor was recognized at a ceremony Dec. 7 at the annual AGU meeting in San Francisco.

"Mary Jo's elegant fundamental scientific investigations not only moved the field of contaminant hydrogeology forward but also influenced and inspired younger generations of scientists to tackle the difficult problem of understanding contaminants in aquifers," said Mary P. Anderson, professor emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who nominated Baedecker for the award.

Baedecker joined USGS as a research chemist in 1974. Early in her career she studied aquifers contaminated by landfill waste. Baedecker's work offered, for the first time, a detailed and comprehensive picture of the impact of landfills on aquifers. She later served as the USGS chief scientist for hydrology and leader of the USGS National Research Program, which develops new information, theories and techniques to anticipate, understand and solve problems facing resources managers. Baedecker retired from the USGS in 2004, where she continues work in contaminant hydrogeology as a scientist emerita.

She completed her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University in 1964, then received a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Kentucky in 1967 and a doctorate in geochemistry from The George Washington University in 1985. From 1968 to 1973 Baedecker was a research scientist at the University of California-Los Angeles.